The Rad Butterfly Emerges from the Cocoon of Treatment Cancer-Free

» Saw my radiation oncologist today .. to review the results of Friday's [ "most-important-test-of-your-life" ] PET scan. "How are you feeling?" he asked. "You tell me," I said. "What should I be feeling? What's the PET scan say?"

Butterfly Emerging from its CocoonThe Rad Butterfly Emerges from Treatment Cancer-Free


What a beautiful word. I love that word.

Both my arms shot straight up. Touchdown!

Cancer-free, baby!

Some folks might argue that I just passed the » biggest test of my life.

I have always been good at taking tests. Far back as I can recall. A chance to show my stuff .. to show what I know. To dazzle the professor.

Math and physics is where I can do this best. Tho none of these merely academic tests came with consequences quite so dire.

» First Things First

First thing I did when I got out of there was to call my son .. cuz I wanted him to know that .. just because I havent seen very much of him lately ..

.. doesnt mean that he's not important to me.

"I wanted to call you first, Pun'kin, and let you know. Tell mom for me. Now I'm gonna call everybody else .. and tell them the good news."

But before leaving the exam room, I told my oncologist that it was difficult for me to adequately express my gratitude [ uh, cuz so much is involved. i mean, what do you say to a man who saves your life? ] but that I didnt wanna let that stop me from saying that I do indeed appreciate him and the entire Moores organization.

Dude, I *do* appreciate them. Very much so. You cannot imagine.

The Scream by Edvard Munch (1893)I mean, you walk into their life with cancer .. and walk out withOUT it.

That is a very cool skill set .. I dont care who you are. They are literally saving lives.

"Come back and see me in 4 months," he said, shaking my hand. "We'll do another scope exam."

I also left a brief message for my ENT surgeon, who was the one who called me and told me that the biopsy was positive and that I had cancer. My message » Four-month PET scan negative.

Back when I was first diagnosed .. and my ENT surgeon said » "Seven weeks of radiation & chemo. If it's still hot, it needs to come out."

The phrase "come out" there refers to » surgery. So today's "all clear" means » no surgery. No knife. No slash.

Perfect Timing to Celebrate » Cancer Survivor Week (Beginning June 1st)

And just in time for next week's Cancer Survivor Week, which begins Monday, June 1st.

UCSD Moores Cancer Survivor Week Begins June 1st

I am soo happy. So relieved. Downright elated.

Tho of part of me is now very tired. You cannot relax very well you are are fighting cancer and dealing with the effects of the (brutal) treatment regimen. That part of me feels like it could sleep for two weeks.

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••• today's entry continues here below •••

It was cool today, cuz, when I walked into the lobby of Moores, and this is BEFORE I saw my oncologist, before I knew what the results were .. and only steps from where my driver had dropped me off ..

.. I saw a big display right in front of me announcing this Monday, June 1st as the beginning of » National Cancer Survivor Week .. and highlighting the various planned celebrations.

Moores Cancer Center in La Jolla | Main Lobby

[[ Note that, in this photo just above of the Moores main lobby .. straight ahead is Radiation Oncology.

To your left is the infusion center for chemo and clinical trials. The doctor's offices are to your right. And the shrinks are up on the third floor. The elevator is behind you. My radiation shots were done in another building located across the street. ]]

» Cancer Survivors Gather at Mission Bay

Such as the Suvivor Beach Stand-Up Paddle on Saturday, June 6 at the Catamaran Resort on Mission Bay in San Diego .. which is but a stone's throw from Seaworld. To benefit the Moores Cancer center.

Catamaran Resort on Mission Bay in San Diego near Seaworld

National Cancer Survivors Day is the very next day » Sunday, June 7th. What timing! What perfect timing.

That Day is » Today | How Sweet It Tis

I distinctly remember wanting so very badly to have the feeling .. to acquire the feeling .. to possess the feeling that cancer was a 'thing' that was » behind me.

National Cancer Survivors Day is Sunday, June 7And how far away, how impossibly far away that looked.

And today I can report that » that day is here, my friend. That day is today.

I mean, sure, my ass is still dragging .. to a degree. My blood is still anemic. My red & white blood counts are still well below the minimum readings considered in he normal range.

But that no longer seems to matter.

How sweet it is.

I can feel my face smiling .. more than it has in a long time. And it feels good.

Emotionally, I feel like I'm in love .. you know, smiling a lot, walking with a spring in your step, seeing the happy-side of everything. Relaxed. The world suddenly seems more beautiful.

I'm not exaggerating when I say that I hear birds chirping more now and that they sound so happy.

Kinda like the image of the National Cancer Survivor Day central figure there .. celebrating life .. immersed in its ecstasy like a whirling dervish remembrance of God.

I can tell you right away .. that yes, you do indeed appreciate life more. There is a thankfulness that comes. Because not everybody who goes thru cancer treatment is as fortunate. I dont know how long it will last, but for now, it is strong.

I dont see how somebody could go thru something like this .. where your very existence is threatened .. by something that has already killed those most dear to you .. and NOT come out the other end feeling a sense of gratitude. For life. For another day of living.

I can see why you would want to celebrate cancer survivors. Because it is a difficult thing to survive. Because the treatment is brutal. [ Tho not as brutal as the lethal heat in India. ]

» Radiation Scarring of Larynx (Patty & Selma & Homer)

He sprayed the cocaine up my nose and scoped out my sinuses and my voice box and those areas. I heard him pointing out on the video screen to the med school student there some radiation scarring of my left ventricle.

Google map of San Diego areaThey spent a lot of time with the scope up my sinuses this time. I've never had the scope up there that long. It's not bad in the beginning, but after a while it becomes more challenging.

My voice sounds like the sisters of Homer Simpson's wife » Patty and Selma. It feels like I have to use more force to get the words to come out .. like it's talking loud or nothing.

Or maybe I have to use more force to get the words to come out at a normal volume.

It feels like I'm talking from deeper in my throat.

There were about six weeks where I had no voice at all, beyond a whisper.

I mean, my neck still has a nice, dark tan .. like I just spent two weeks at a tropical island. Only I didnt. That's a lot of radiation to give your skin a permanent tan, like that.

Back during my second or third week of treatment .. the first thing that I could feel that was being affected by the radiation was something in the area of my voice box.

I couldnt tell you exactly what it was .. but I could definitely FEEL it. It felt like I frequently needed to take of sip of water .. because my throat was dry.

"Wow," I thought. "They must really be targeting my voice box with the radiation."

That was the first thing I noticed from the effects of the radiation .. and that was fairly early on in the treatment. I could do that math in my head and see that it wasnt going to be good by the end of treatment .. if things continue how they had been going.

But what are your alternatives? You have none. Well, you have one.

A week or two later, my voice started failing .. before it died completely.

» I Didnt Even Want to Know the Radiation Dose

Danger! High-Radiation Area | Run Away or Die!Now the doses of radiation that are used by the medical industry are so much fantastically higher ..

.. than those used by folks like myself in the nuclear power industry.

But I know enough to know that .. if you can actually FEEL the effects of the radiation, then you are getting a gigantic dose.

I did not even want to know the numbers that they were using to shoot me with.

I mean, I could have easily converted the dose into a reasonable guess about its equivalent biological damage.

But i didnt want to know because I thought that knowing the number might scare me. You know how the mind likes to run away with you.

Beyond the searing voice box, I would wake beginning the third week feeling like somebody had punched me in the mouth ..

.. like the first thing you do upon waking is say, "Ouch," and grab your mouth.

The last two weeks it felt like they were kicking me in the teeth.

» Grandma See's Chocolate to Celebrate

On the ride home today, we had to drop off another lady first in Escondito. She needed to stop at the pharmacy for some Percosetts.

Viceroy butterfly fresh from its CocoonWhile she was inside, I spied a See's store a block away.

"Dude," I told the driver. "I'm gonna walk down to the See's store and get some chocolate."

So that is how I celebrated the news .. so far.

Oh, here's another thing to celebrate » Lauren is back at Yahoo Finance. She makes them look good.

I missed her when she was gone to CBS. I was not visiting YF as much since Lauren left. I've been spending more time at the New York Times.

And I also noticed that Aaron is no longer the Editor-in-Chief. WHAT's up with that? That does not seem right to me.

» Lee's Student Debt Revolution

I noticed that you picked up on the Lee Siegel story. I read his piece at the Times. Most provocative. Downright revolutionary. I was kinda surprised when I saw him sitting next to you .. that a swat team hadnt already swoopped by and bagged his ass.

Here's a passage that stood out:

Someone with character would have paid off those loans and let the chips fall where they may. But I have found, after some decades on this earth, that the road to character is often paved with family money and family connections, not to mention 14 percent effective tax rates on seven-figure incomes.

The graphic of burning the draft card was clever and provocative. I wonder who came up with that.

I like how you pressed him repeatedly about how they were fucking with him. The government is good at fucking with you and at making your life miserable. [ "True that," says Kafka. ] Especially when it's about the money.

Oh, I see the Times has followed up with a story titled » Taking On Student Debt, and Refusing to Repay, where they noted that Lee's piece was the most-read piece on the Times' web site. So it seems to have churned up interest beyond just you & me. (Doesnt that sound nice? .. you & me. I didnt plan it that way. It seems to come naturally.)

The piece also describes the trials and tribulations encountered by those who co-sign for these student loans. I recall my 89-year-old Walk-in-the-Park friend mentioning how he had co-signed for one of his granddaughters and how she had simply dropped out and quit going and how he was now stuck paying back her loans and how awkward that was for him.

Anyway, I am soo glad that you are back at YF. Let me tell you. (There I go, again.)

I was surprised to see that Lee went to Columbia.

Columbia University in the City of New York

I was wondering if all Columbia grads, who read the Core curriculum books (Denby's Great Books) .. I was wondering if all Columbia grads have that same (seemingly intuitive) sense of moral awareness that the Dog has .. or is he special?

My brother went to Yale & Tufts medical. He said he racked up a quarter mil in student debt. He said, "Bro, once you get accepted into medical school, they give you all the money you want .. cuz they know you're good for it. You just show them a copy of the acceptance letter and they say » 'How much would you like?'"

When he partnered with a sports medicine group, they paid off all his student loans and they took a chunk out of his paycheck until the balance was paid off.

If you need any orthopedic work, if you need new hips, for example, I can get you a good deal. Titanium, baby! They're designed to hold up to even the most intense forms of physical stress.

I never took out any student loans myself. Didnt need to. Had the GI Bill benefits after the military, and was working while taking a class here and a class there. It took me a decade to get the degree.

Sometimes I would save my money and take a layoff and go full-time for a semester or two. While collecting. Very nice. Easy to get jealous of kids who could do that for four years straight.

But when it is a rare thing .. living the life of the mind, which is the life of the student .. when doing that full-time is rare, I think you appreciate it more.

Kinda like great sex. When you have great sex every night .. it eventually becomes ordinary sex .. almost by definition of the word.

Sort of like the person » "who, being in a chronic state of wonder, is surprised at nothing."

I see you have some serious heels going on here at t=1:40 remaining, and the curves you sport at t=2:00 remaining made me so dizzy that I nearly fell of of my chair. I hardly heard a thing that Andy said.

Regarding your piece on the California drought .. my Jordanian driver (from Amman) says that every residence has two tanks on top, and that the government fills these tanks with water once a week.

And if you use all your water before the week is up, and you want more, you must buy it, and it is not cheap. (He told me that Amman has 7 million souls, but Wikipedia says 4.) [ More 01, more 02. ]

Rick .. I dont know how yo do it. I would be lying if I said that listening to him isnt like nails on a chalkboard. But he represents popular opinions, so I can see his value.

[[ Okay, I see you have come to his defense. If you like him, I will cut him slack. I can hear my old boss barking » "You're protecting that asshole." ]]

But .. if I had state secrets and was captured by the enemy and they put me in a dank, musty trailer at a black site somewhere near Poland with Rick .. and made me listen to him .. I would crack.

"Okay, I'll tell you. Whatever you want to know. Just dont make me listen to Rick any more."

Sure, I exaggerate. But not as much as you might think. I'm not sure why I hear nails on a chalkboard when listening to him, but I think it's because he reminds me of my former self .. which I have worked long-n-hard to eradicate.

» Chemo Doctor Tomorrow for Blood Work

Tomorrow I go and see my chemo doctor and get a big blood work-up done. I'll be looking to see if the anemia went away yet, and how my white blood cell count is doing. And the platelets.

I have felt a noticeable improvement this past week and even put on a pound or two. Weight is still around 145 or 146.

It was my chemo doctor who said » "If these types of cancer DO come back .. they usually come back within the first two years."

So they will continue to watch me .. with periodic follow-up exam visits .. about every 3 or 4 months.

The end. ■

You can return to the exact spot from where this entry originated .. see » here (May, 2015 monthly archive).

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This page contains a single entry by Rad published on May 26, 2015 5:26 AM.

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